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    Thread: Knowledge?

    1. #1
      Xei
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      Knowledge?

      Try to define knowledge. That is, give a description of a set such that everything that we agree to be knowledge can be easily and unambiguously placed in the set, and everything that is not valid knowledge is placed outside.

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      Wouldn't really say definite knowledge is possible. I'd say what we rely on to yield expected results can only be in degrees of sureness. What I do think is that the only thing we can be absolutely sure of is our observation. Person (a) observed Person (b) to exhibit a quality described as (x), or Person (a) observed Newtonian mechanics to successfully launch a space shuttle to the moon can definitely be known by person (a). Even considering illusions or hallucinations, you can still be sure you observed what you observed lol.

      Everything else is just theory (as of yet). If humans ever form a complete description of reality that contains no mysteries and shows no possibility of improvement, then I guess that might be rightly called the "knowledge" of everything. Then again, we couldn't be sure that an observation of nature wouldn't surprise us in the future.

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      Knowledge is the act of weighing decisions based upon prior perceptions and conclusions based on those perceptions.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      As a hint to other posters, Xei is looking for the definition of a set. Presumably, this set will be a subset of the set of possible statements.

      It's a challenging problem indeed.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      It would be hard to describe my above definition of knowledge as a set, as it would be ineffable since anything other than pure observation would be theory and not absolute knowledge. Giving knowledge a more lenient and actually useful definition, I guess you could say that knowledge is the set of the most accurate and explanatory theories of the time. I guess this set's contents change, if that makes any sense.

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      I am become fish pear Abra's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      As a hint to other posters, Xei is looking for the definition of a set. Presumably, this set will be a subset of the set of possible statements.

      It's a challenging problem indeed.
      Couldn't that set be defined as the set of possible statements which model reality? Or, put another way, the statements which are consistent with reality?
      Abraxas

      Quote Originally Posted by OldSparta
      I murdered someone, there was bloody everywhere. On the walls, on my hands. The air smelled metallic, like iron. My mouth... tasted metallic, like iron. The floor was metallic, probably iron

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Abra View Post
      Couldn't that set be defined as the set of possible statements which model reality? Or, put another way, the statements which are consistent with reality?
      I don't think that that's adequate unless we assume that we already know all such statements. What you're defining is more like "truth". The set that we're after is ideally a subset of that set. However, it was once common knowledge that the world was flat. So, going back in time, would that be part of our set? It seems to me that knowledge has non-trivial intersection with truth but is not necessarily a subset of it.


      Say it's the set of possible statements which all people would agree with?
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      I am become fish pear Abra's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      I don't think that that's adequate unless we assume that we already know all such statements. What you're defining is more like "truth". The set that we're after is ideally a subset of that set. However, it was once common knowledge that the world was flat. So, going back in time, would that be part of our set? It seems to me that knowledge has non-trivial intersection with truth but is not necessarily a subset of it.


      Say it's the set of possible statements which all people would agree with?
      I wouldn't say all people; I'd make it a majority. But yeah, that definition sounds good to me~

      And if these are the definitions, I'd take truth over knowledge any day.
      PhilosopherStoned likes this.
      Abraxas

      Quote Originally Posted by OldSparta
      I murdered someone, there was bloody everywhere. On the walls, on my hands. The air smelled metallic, like iron. My mouth... tasted metallic, like iron. The floor was metallic, probably iron

    9. #9
      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Yeah, I didn't really have time to clarify. Here's what I'd really do.


      Let P be the set of all persons. p will always be an element of P. Let S be the set of all possible statements. Each person, p in P, induces a map, Tp from S into {true, false} according to if they evaluate the statement to be true or false.

      then K(p) = {s in S: Tp(s) = true}

      So now we've defined knowledge for a single person as a map from the P into Pow(S). If P' lays in P then we can define K(P') to be the intersection of Kp for all p in P'. So now we have a map from Pow(P) to Pow(S).

      This allows us to discount people that are ridiculous from our considerations and that's always nice.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

    10. #10
      I am become fish pear Abra's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      Yeah, I didn't really have time to clarify. Here's what I'd really do.


      Let P be the set of all persons. p will always be an element of P. Let S be the set of all possible statements. Each person, p in P, induces a map, Tp from S into {true, false} according to if they evaluate the statement to be true or false.

      then K(p) = {s in S: Tp(s) = true}

      So now we've defined knowledge for a single person as a map from the P into Pow(S). If P' lays in P then we can define K(P') to be the intersection of Kp for all p in P'. So now we have a map from Pow(P) to Pow(S).

      This allows us to discount people that are ridiculous from our considerations and that's always nice.
      Easy, easy. I haven't taken that much logic (yet), and I assume nor have most people on this forum. You lost me at "a map from the P into Pow(S)." I have no idea what Pow means. Also, could you reword what P' is?

      Show me the wayyyy~
      Last edited by Abra; 07-27-2012 at 02:40 AM.
      Abraxas

      Quote Originally Posted by OldSparta
      I murdered someone, there was bloody everywhere. On the walls, on my hands. The air smelled metallic, like iron. My mouth... tasted metallic, like iron. The floor was metallic, probably iron

    11. #11
      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Oh yeah. I forgot I made that notation up cause I'd already used P


      If Q is some set, then I'm using Pow(Q) to denote its power set, the set of all subsets of Q.

      P' is just a subset of P and as such is an element of Pow(P). I was running out of meaningful letters so I just primed P.

      Also, "map" is just another word for "function".
      Abra likes this.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

    12. #12
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      Gross, a thread of destined to become logorrhea.

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      As a hint to other posters, Xei is looking for the definition of a set. Presumably, this set will be a subset of the set of possible statements.

      It's a challenging problem indeed.
      That seems like it'd be a pretty limited definition. What about other kinds of knowledge, like physical sensations? Do they only become knowledge when we put them into statements? I'm way too lazy to try to do this in a satisfactory manner right now but I'd like to at some point. It seems to me you'd have to come up with separate definitions for every kind of knowledge. It's probably not as difficult as I'm telling myself it is, but I'm feeling lazy.
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      I wound't consider that knowledge. I'd just consider that to be experience.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      I wound't consider that knowledge. I'd just consider that to be experience.
      I suppose you can if you want. To me the knowledge of what cheese tastes is more in the experience or memory of it than in the description of it.

      What about things like intuitive knowledge? Instinctual knowledge?
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      I don't consider it knowledge until it can be put in words. Xei might disagree.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      I see. Do you include math/numbers as well or no?
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Absolutely. a2 + b2 = c2 is describable in words.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      DEATH TO FANATICS! StonedApe's Avatar
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      I assumed so, just curious.
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

    20. #20
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by PhilosopherStoned View Post
      I don't consider it knowledge until it can be put in words. Xei might disagree.
      I would also disagree.

      I believe when your immune system learns how to protect itself from a new virus, it has gained knowledge.

      Knowledge is the information we use to make decisions, information being the accumulative transactional relationship between interacting systems.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      I would also disagree.

      I believe when your immune system learns how to protect itself from a new virus, it has gained knowledge.

      Knowledge is the information we use to make decisions, information being the accumulative transactional relationship between interacting systems.
      I don't believe that knowledge is "the information we use to make decisions." I have all sorts of knowledge that I never use to make decisions.

      I would regard the immune system as having accumulated information but I would not regard it as having acquired knowledge. When we have understood the workings of the immune system to they point where our information about is communicable, then I would regard it as knowledge. But it would our knowledge and not the immune system's knowledge.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      Then I don't believe in what you would define as knowledge. Information only serves action, it does not exist in itself. There is no such thing as true and false, at least not in the capacity of the mind. There is only evidence to be utilized for action. I do not search for truth, I search for the most reliable evidence to hedge my bets.

      "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth" - Marcus Aurelius

      So I might say something is true, like for instance that earthquakes are caused by plate tectonics. But I'm only calling it true because it's a better bet to assume an earthquake is caused by tectonics rather than by some magic bunnies. I will act as though it's true, but I would not decide it's true, objectively.

      You could argue that it doesn't matter what caused an earthquake, the action of protecting yourself from an earthquake has nothing to do with most information regarding it. But I would argue that's not even remotely true. We attempt to sculpt the most accurate conception of reality because it serves action best for the entire human race to seek such accuracy. This doesn't mean our view of the universe is 100% accurate. It only means that one who strives to see the world more accurately tends to be more successful than one who does not, statistically speaking.

      Yay for epistemology.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 08-01-2012 at 09:37 AM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    23. #23
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      There is no such thing as true and false, at least not in the capacity of the mind.
      Not true.
      PhilosopherStoned likes this.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      There is no such thing as true and false, at least not in the capacity of the mind.
      You must be especially enlightened then. Most people would decide that the statement "The sky is neon pink every day at noon" was false. This is all my definition makes reference too. It does not make reference to "actually true" and "actually false". Hence my definition works fine, at least for what I'm trying to define.

      You do seem to be slowly getting smarter though. Keep up the good work!
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      That's good, I wish I could return the compliment but you're still condescending as fuck.

      For proper communication, statements like true and false are useful. The problem occurs when we begin to think about what's actually true and actually false. Why do we seek what we cannot find? If we cannot actually grasp actual truth, then what purpose is there in seeking it? My argument is that we seek it in order to obtain utilizable truth or practical truth. This isn't actually truth, but like you said it's useful to retain the vocabulary. It may be more accurate to simply call knowledge information rather than truth in order to imply it's practical purpose, but I believe it's also most practical to seek accuracy above functionality when acquiring information. Otherwise bias can impede your growth. However, I also believe that it's important to remember you never obtain the actual truth, you are always grasping at it. The mystery recedes. Rather than lament over this, one can find refuge in the action that knowledge leans you toward. One only owns their action, not the fruit of it.

      And so I guess I'd call knowledge the accumulative laboring to grasp at the mystery of life

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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